Recreational vehicles, or RVs for short, are a great way to see the country.
In July 2015, I hopped on a plane in Argentina, and after a pretty exhausting overnight flight, I landed in Los Angeles. The plan: a 4-week RV tour of the West Coast.
After visiting Los Angeles, Vegas, San Francisco, Monterrey, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and a handful of other jaw dropping places, I can say that RV'ing is a fantastic experience. You can soak in the continent’s best sights while enjoying the comforts of home. You don't have to worry about finding a hotel room, and if for some reason, you can't make it to your destination for the day, you can always stop short when you need to and rest as you need to.
It's the perfect way to get much closer to the sights you want to see, especially if you're the kind of RV'er who likes to get out into the back-country and not stay in established campgrounds.
However, after experiencing the RV life first-hand, I can safely say that not everything is perfect. There are several hurdles that come with driving a 12,000 pound monster!
Something that caught my attention during my trip is that electric bikes are especially popular among the RV crowd. At first I didn't get it. Why would someone take a vehicle when they already have one?
Then it hit me. An Electric Bike is the perfect, simplest and most affordable way of sorting all the 'challenges' of RV'ing.
Why Electric Bikes Are The Perfect Complement For Your RVThe lure of the open road and the comforts of home come together when you're traveling in a recreational vehicle, or RV. But before you hit the road, there are a few things you should understand about RV's.
One of the things you need to consider is how you'll get around once you've made your camp. And even if you stay in campgrounds, you're still going to want to get out and see the sights.
The first option is to disconnect your RV and drive that. But who wants to unhook everything and drive a mobile home for a few miles to the store? If you are towing, you can always unhook the camper but odds are your tow vehicle is a big truck or SUV.
An alternative option is to tow a small car behind their camper. While that works well enough, it's an extra “thing” that you have behind you, making your rig even longer and more unwieldy. In addition, if you use one of your regular cars, you'll be putting lots of miles on it. Even though you're not driving, the wheels are turning, and parts are wearing out. Not a smart move.
Some people take regular bicycles. While they're great, the distances you need to travel and the terrain you will be covering can make that a chore, too. As we know, some of the most beautiful places are in the mountains, and the stores and sights may be 10 to 15 miles away. Riding a regular bike may be more than you feel up to doing.
Another option that some people use is a moped, or small gas powered scooter. While these can be practical, the fact that they use gasoline places a lot of limitations on where you can use them. Since it's a gas motor vehicle, you'll be excluded from a lot of really nice places where you could ride a bicycle. Also, there is storage and transportation. A scooter or moped will weigh two to three times as much as a good electric bike, and due to the gasoline engine, will absolutely need to be carried on a heavy duty rack attached to the outside, where it will be exposed to weather, road debris and possible theft. Plus, gasoline engines require significantly more maintenance, and as any RV or trailer owner knows, service and maintenance is often hard to get while on the road.
This is where an electric bicycle comes to the rescue!
Besides being extremely easy to transport, and much more affordable than towing a car or purchasing a moped, electric bikes offer a few solid perks for the RV lifestyle.
First and foremost, they are the perfect way to move around camp. If you are a regular RV'er, you are well aware that some parks are gigantic, and the best spots are often secluded and far away from most amenities. If you don't feel like walking 10 minutes to check if your laundry is ready, just hop on your electric bike!
Second, your electric bike will give you the freedom to visit the closest town, or get to the store without having to break camp or unhook your truck. With ranges up to 60 miles, an electric bike is the perfect way to run errands will get you to the store and back, and you'll get to enjoy the sites, close up, while you do it!
Finally, what in my experience is one the best reasons: you can really get out and experience the area you're visiting. Why spend your time behind a pane of glass, looking out at the sights at 40 mph, when you can bike? A car, or truck or RV isolates you from nature; a bike, on the other hand, gets you up close and personal.
Being out in the open, on a bike, will give you a much greater connection to the place you're visiting. It offers you the possibility to be much more in touch with your surroundings, while giving you a bigger radius that you can comfortably explore on foot.
This is especially true if you're the kind of camper who likes to get off the beaten path. If you love exploring and you like finding back-country sites that are far from the main roads, an electric bicycle can serve as a valuable tool for scouting out potential sites.
Often, the best places to go are down a forest service or logging road, and it can be a bit nerve-raking to be headed down a narrow path with your complete camping rig! You can often find yourself in a situation where the road just becomes too narrow or rugged for your setup, and having to back up if you can't find a place to turn around is a huge hassle. Also, think of the trails that are open to hikers and bikers, but not to cars. If you're driving an RV, you'll definitely be limited in where you can go, if the roads get rough.
A bike, on the other hand, being smaller and more maneuverable, will get you into places that you'd never get to with a big truck. With your electric bike, you can park at the head of the road, jump on the bike and make sure that you're going to be able to find a place to stay, and get back out again!
Again, the greater range provided by an electric bike lets you go further and explore even more.
One side note: remember, not all trails are open to bikes, so make sure the ones you choose are. Also, be polite, and give way to hikers – be a good ambassador for bikes!
3 Practical Considerations of RV'ing with an Electric BikeAlthough carrying an electric bicycle is orders of magnitude easier than any other vehicle, there are a few things you'll need to think through during your trip. Let's go over a few of them.
Charging Your E-Bike
At the top of the list is charging. If you camp in campgrounds, you'll have power available to charge once you're hooked up to the local utilities. If you are the sort of camper who likes to get out into more remote areas, don't worry. An electric bike requires very little power for it's charger – typically around 80-100 watts – so a small inverter can handle the load.
Transporting And Storing Your E-Bike
You also need to consider how you will carry your electric bike, or bikes if you have two of them! Fortunately, there's a number of options available.
If you want to carry them on the back of your camper or RV, there are hitch-mounted racks that work very well. The best option is usually one of the versions that support the bike by its wheels, in a tray. These are both more secure, and also easier to get your bike up on to, as the loading height is much lower.
One that we recommend to EVELO customers is this one: Hollywood Racks Sportrider Rack for Electric Bikes. However, there are plenty of other ones available as well.
If you have a truck and are towing a camper, the bed of your truck is an excellent location to, if you've got the room. In my opinion, the best option is to keep them inside while you're on the road. Since they're not much bigger than a regular bicycle, and don't have a gasoline engine and tank that a moped or scooter would, this is a great approach that keeps them out of the weather and road dirt.
Once you've made it to your campsite, just take them out and lock them securely to your vehicle.
I also recommend a cover, especially if you are going to be transporting them on the outside of the vehicle. These aren't expensive, and are available from many sources. This is a particularly good one that I've recommended to customers in the past: YardStash Bicycle Cover XL
Rules and Regulations
Something you also need to consider before departure is the rules and regulations of the campgrounds or areas where you are staying.
Private campgrounds have their own rules and the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service also have rules that you will need to make sure to adhere to. There's some variation, but in general, most campgrounds require you to follow the rules of the road and avoid pedestrian-only areas. In addition to that, if the state you are riding in has a helmet law, you will of course need to comply with that.
The specifics depend a lot on where you are. Therefore, the best advise I can give you is to check ahead of time. Most campgrounds and parks have their rules and regulations available on their website, so it's easy to do!
Using Your Electric Bike When You Are Not RV'ing
The last thing you'll to consider is that your electric bike isn't only useful when you're camping. While there are plenty of full-timers who spend their lives on the road these days, most people can't do that, and are at home the majority of the time.
That's when an electric bike really excels! Most of our customers don't own RVs, but they are extremely happy with their bike. No matter your age or where you live, you can use it for running errands or going shopping, commuting to work, getting your exercise or just plain fun recreational rides outdoors!
All in all, electric bikes will make your travels more fun and convenient – go for it!
An electric bike is the ideal solution for many people who travel by RV, and can be useful in your everyday life as well. They're affordable, convenient, easy to use and maintain, and most of all: FUN! So, the question is: where will your electric bike take you?